With Ryan Briscoe still recovering from a broken wrist, Level 5 Motorsports has recruited a pair of former American Le Mans Series champions to bolster its driving strength for this weekend’s round at Road America.
Simon Pagenaud and Ricardo Gonzalez will rejoin the Scott Tucker-owned team for Sunday’s two-hour and 45-minute race, with the IndyCar standout taking Briscoe’s seat in the No. 551 car and the newly crowned Le Mans LMP2 class winner joining ALMS P2 points leader Marino Franchitti in the No. 552 machine.
Mike Conway subbed for Briscoe in the last round at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, which saw the two-time IndyCar race winner scoring the P2 class pole in his ALMS debut. However, a decision to bring in Honda-blessed driver Pagenaud, who drove for Level 5 at Sebring, came in advance, according to team manager David Stone.
“I had to make the decision very shortly after Ryan broke his wrist because I couldn’t put the team at risk of him not being able to drive or not being 100 percent,” Stone said.
“Secondly, I was more concerned about Ryan’s long-term health and not wanting to have it relapse. I don’t care how many doctor releases you have, the reality is that a wrist injury can relapse real easy.
“I didn’t feel that it was in Ryan or Level 5’s best interest to have him back in the car prematurely.”
Stone said Briscoe will return to the wheel during a Level 5 test at Circuit of The Americas later this month, ahead of the Grand Prix of Baltimore, where the Australian is expected to make his comeback race.
Tucker, who has typically shared the wheel of both Level 5 entries, will focus driving duties only on his point-scoring No. 551 car for the first time this season. Last year, he stepped out of the team’s second entry at Baltimore, which also saw Gonzalez fill the role as the Silver-rated driver for that race.
Returning after a three-race stint with Level 5 last year, Gonzalez is fresh off victory at Le Mans with OAK Racing and leads the FIA World Endurance Championship heading into next month’s Six Hours of Sao Paulo in Brazil.
Level 5, meanwhile, is currently atop the ALMS P2 title chase over season-long competitors Extreme Speed Motorsports, which has claimed only a single victory thus far.